Chiefs in the Shortland Islands give free access to RSIPF

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The Royal Solomon Island Police Force (RSIPF) Deputy Commissioner Operations Juanita Matanga has met with the Council of Chiefs in the Shortland Islands, Western Province at the Kulitanai Police Post on 26 August 2020 to discuss the issue of access for police officers onto the inner and outer islands of the Shortlands.

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This is necessary during the Operation COVID-19 at the western border with Papua New Guinea. Bougainville has registered one COVID-19 case and so the RSIPF and other government agencies have beefed up security in the western border to ensure the virus does not enter into Solomon Islands.

RSIPF wants to use some of the islands in the Shortlands as observation posts to stop boats travelling from Bougainville into Solomon Islands.

Deputy Commissioner Matanga told the chiefs and elders of Famoa, “I stand in front of you people of Shortland Islands and humbly ask you to work together and support the RSIPF by allowing your islands for my officers to operate as we address the movement of people into our shores due to the COVID -19 pandemic.”

“I want to thank the chiefs and elders who are here today for availing yourself following our request to meet with the RSIPF to discuss an important issue that needs to be addressed by both parties.”

“I really appreciate and acknowledge the result of our discussion after you assured the RSIPF can operate on any island in the Shortlands freely without expecting anything in return.”

 Deputy Commissioner Matanga told the chiefs and elders, “The RSIPF will make sure the officers deployed to the western border will respect the conditions agreed on and that its officers will not use the land and sea resources on the islands for any commercial purposes unless permission has been granted from the landowners. Thank you for assuring us that the resources can be used for sustaining the officers while they are on the islands.  This is a positive sign of the cooperation that now exists between you and the RSIPF. We need to continue this positive relationship as we together fight against this deadly virus.”

During the meeting at Kulitanai all of the chiefs who spoke expressed how happy they were to be able to discuss the matter with the RSIPF. They said they wanted to help the RSIPF perform their duties at the western border properly. The chiefs thanked the RSIPF for providing security at the western border making members of the communities feel safe to move around freely in the light of the one positive case on nearby Bougainville.

Deputy Commissioner Matanga will also hold consultations with chiefs and landowners at Taro in Choiseul Province to allow their islands to be accessed by RSIPF officers while deployed on the Operation COVID-19. A similar meeting was held with chiefs and landowners on Mono island earlier who have agreed to allow RSIPF officers to access two of their islands for the purpose of the COVID-19 operation. //End//

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